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Wading Birds

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Environmental monitoring -- Pacific Northwest, Wetland restoration -- Oregon


In the United States there is breeding ecology information available on the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), but large-scale distributional and productivity information is lacking. In the lake regions of the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, regional surveys of Great Blue Heron nesting sites have been done by Vermeer and Reynolds (1970) and Vermeer (1969). Breeding biology studies were done in California (Pratt 1970, Page 1971), Canada (Vermeer 1969, McAloney 1973), and Oregon (Henny and Bethers 1971). In 1974 a survey of Great Blue Heron heronries on the Oregon Coast was completed through a National Science Foundation grant (McMahon et al. 1974). The only other extensive survey in the United States dealing with Great Blue Heron habitat and nesting success was done by Miller (1943). In general, large-scale surveys of colonial-nesting herons is lacking in the literature. No regional data are available concerning inland breeding sites in Oregon. This type of information is essential for historical perspective and management, especially in terms of identification and inventory of critical avian habitats as a part of future land-use and preservation plans.

Oregon's Willamette River and adjacent riparian lands recently became part of a concentrated land-use plan called the Willamette River Greenway. In the plan, wildlife areas are given high priorities for inclusion in preservation categories, and Great Blue Heron habitat is specifically mentioned.

The main goals of my project were to study the distribution of Great Blue Heron colonies along the Willamette River with emphasis on: (1) heron productivity (i.e., number of active nests, number of young produced, nesting chronology, feeding data, and effects of weather and pesticides on nesting success); (2) physical description of heronries and related habitat (i.e., description of nesting trees and riparian habitat, availability of nesting habitat, location of and distance between heronries, and ownership - land-use information); and (3) effects of logging on Horseshoe Island during the beginning of the breeding season.


Copyright 1978 by the National Audubon Society.


Permission granted from the publisher to add the final publisher version. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the publisher's written consent.

Papers were presented at the North American conference on wading birds on October 14-17, 1976, in Charleston, S.C., cosponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society.

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